Unique and Singular is a group show of works on paper. Culled from a selection of Cirrus publications, the show features the following artists, Lita Albuquerque, Peter Alexander, Mark Bradford, Jerry Brane, Laddie Dill, Jill Giegerich, Joe Goode, Charles Hill, Dennis Hollingsworth, Mark Lere, David Lloyd, Allan McCollum, Jason Meadows, Kori Newkirk, Ruben Ochoa, Ed Ruscha, Mary Weatherford, and Jonas Wood. The exhibition explores how past printing techniques were used to create one-of-a-kind works, preceding today’s prevalent use of digital printing methods to make paintings.
The show illustrates the various techniques used to create unique works on paper, including, monotype, monoprint, painting, digital printing, performance, chine-collé, drawing and lithography. In the past, the artist worked by hand and created smaller scale works. In contrast, today’s artists are using new tools, which encompass digital printers and files, images sourced from the internet, and social media. The images, usually larger in scale, are frequently printed on various materials, such as canvas, wood, metal, etc. In addition to working with digital technology, a number of artists are also adding back the hand element by painting or drawing onto the printed imagery, and often times, producing these works in multiples.
During the printmaking process, most artists begin with a matrix onto which they directly apply paint or ink. The process is one of spontaneity, allowing for immediate results, unlike the digital process which may require time-consuming, file manipulation before the image is printed. In Peter Alexander’s Santa Cruz Cirrus, and Jonas Wood’s 2010 series for example, one engages the fluidity of brush strokes rendered by the artist’s hand. A number of artists, like Mark Bradford and Kori Newkirk, further embrace this immediacy, by incorporating collage and chine collé.
Performance, nature, and chance also allow for artists to distinguish their work as unique. Lita Albuquerque used Kundalini breathing exercises to create a random dispersion of graphite, while Joe Goode used force to incise his images. Charles Hill buried his prints in compost, and left them to the devices of the unwitting elements, which Hill later drew on with a sewing machine.
The proofing session that takes place during the creation of an edition, also enables the artist to create a unique piece. While these proofs are not editioned, they are signed and retained as works on paper. Ed Ruscha’s IF trial proof and Mary Weatherford’s Union Ave trial proof each show one of several changes made to the the respective image during the artist’s decision making and collaboration with the printmaker.
In shedding light on the numerous tools one can engage in the workshop, the exhibition shows how artists are encouraged to explore methods and materials they would have otherwise not entertained. Similarly, in considering all of these possibilities, Unique and Singular questions the value system that is placed on the large, digitally printed, painting, to that of the totally hand-made, printed work on paper.